Invest time in your language study not just your money

Too often people ask me ‘how much time does it take to finish this a1 level book?’ or ‘How much time does it take to learn French?’ these questions cannot have an answer because the answer depends on you. And it depends on so many different things, but the most important one is your motivation. And how much time are you willing to give for this language learning journey. How much time does it take depends on how much time you can give. Simple math.  

Investing just your money is not enough. Most people think if I pay for these lessons this is it. The knowledge will just slide from my teacher’s brain into my own during those 1/2/3 hours per week I spend with them. I mean I pay them to teach me so they should do their job. Just magically insert Spanish into my brain because I’m paying for it. But the secret is – no one can teach you, they can just make you wanna learn.

Another question my students ask is how many lessons per week is enough? There is no enough, you should take at least 2 per week, that’s why most language schools also function this way, one per week won’t get you far. To feel some kind of progress it should be 2 times. The only way once per week could work is if you do that other ‘lesson’ on your own. Revising what you learned or listening to some audio lessons. I do understand not everyone has the money to take 2-3 lessons per week but this is not the reason not to study. I say 2 lessons per week at least because from my experience people don’t have time to study on their own or they just prefer spending their free time in another way. That’s why the motivation is the key. The best motivation is knowing you will live in a country where this language is spoken so you know you won’t be able to get by without it. Just liking a certain language isn’t motivation enough for most people. Maybe for you it is and you are in love with Greek and you want to discover new words each day. This is how I see it, since language learning is kind of my hobby, but it doesn’t have to be for you. What it needs to be is something you find fun. If your learning process isn’t fun for you, you might quit on the second day. Find what works for you, what gets you excited to learn more. Is it listening to those Brazilian songs or watching an Italian movie? These are also ways to learn if you find the lyrics or the subtitles. It doesn’t have to be just grammar and rules.

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When I say at least 2 times per week it doesn’t need to be 2 hours spent with the book. You can put audio lessons or an audio book in the target language on your phone and listen to it on the way to work. It really is that simple, you just have to think what in an enjoyable way for you to learn. Some people are very good at acquiring a language all on their own. I admire them, I never learned a language without some help. But I never just took the lessons, I always did something more. I was always on the lookout for different ways to help me advance better and start talking as soon as possible. Find a teacher, but know he is not your only resource, and he is not to blame if your language learning isn’t progressing. Even the best teacher in the world cannot make up for all the ‘lost time’ or lack of motivation. The teacher should be someone to help you understand better but he is not a magician. It is up to you to take the wand and create magic. The teacher is your guide but you have to make the moves.

Like the gym, if you go once per week you won’t get anywhere. It is similar with acquiring a foreign language. Maybe it’s rainy outside and you don’t feel like going all the way to the gym but that doesn’t mean you cannot exercise at home, does it? Or maybe you cannot afford the gym but you can still find some exercises online and find space in your schedule to do them. We cannot control our financial situation but we can always control our time. No more excuses, like Nike says – just do it! As simple as that.

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